Geotechnical EngineerJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

Geotechnical Engineering is a mix of engineering and science, and they may work in construction determining whether the land is safe to build or they may work with other scientists in tracking climate change. These Engineers are very important, especially when it comes to the overall success of construction projects. They ensure there is no possibility of unsafe ground being built on, preventing homes and buildings from being built upon soil that could cause a landslide, avalanche, or other damage.

A critical skill needed for this job is math because geotechnical engineers need to analyze data and be able to study the geology of a specific area. A bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or in another engineering field is required in order to be considered for this job. Most geotechnical engineers will also go beyond their degree and receive Professional Engineering licensure. They must also have expert knowledge in CAD software, as well as Microsoft Office Suite.

Sample job description

When it comes to building new infrastructure, one of the most important aspects to consider is the foundation. A geotechnical engineer is a type of civil engineer who studies soil and rock properties to help design the best foundation for everything from roads to new buildings. Geotechnical engineers also have to assess the stability of adjacent slopes as well as the risk of avalanches and landslides. [Your Company Name] is hiring experienced geotechnical engineers with excellent communication and advanced computer skills.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Provide expert engineering advice and recommendations for construction projects
  • Perform geotechnical studies, field tests, analysis, and design
  • Prepare and present findings and recommendations to leadership
  • Organize and direct geotechnical site assessment
  • Determine and obtain necessary compliance permits 

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or another related engineering field. Employers often prefer candidates with Professional Engineering (PE) licensure.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Possess up-to-date knowledge of federal, state, and local environmental regulations
  • Expertise in CAD (computer-aided design) software
  • Microsoft Office Suite proficient
  • Strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Excellent time-management skills with the ability to effectively prioritize tasks
  • Comfortable working in the field
  • Strong teamwork skills

Preferred qualifications

  • Master’s degree or continuing education in the field
  • Excellent knowledge of local soil and rock properties
  • Experience working out in the field
  • Advanced data collection and recording techniques

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a geotechnical engineer is $83,700 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$83,250$112,600
Los Angeles, California$93,900$127,050
Denver, Colorado$78,250$105,850
Washington, DC$95,350$128,950
Miami, Florida$77,900$105,350
Orlando, Florida$71,850$97,200
Tampa, Florida$72,550$98,150
Atlanta, Georgia$76,150$102,950
Chicago, Illinois$87,500$118,350
Boston, Massachusetts$94,600$128,050
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$75,400$102,050
New York City, New York$99,600$134,750
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$81,100$109,750
Dallas, Texas$78,950$106,850
Houston, Texas$78,600$106,350
Seattle, Washington$91,050$123,200
National Average$71,150$96,250

Typical work environment

Most geotechnical engineers split their time between working in the field and the office. Due to the varied nature of civil engineering, geotechnical engineers might work in any environment–on and off-shore–and in all weather conditions as they survey the construction site. Geotechnical engineers use specialized tools in the field to take measurements and test soil samples. In the office, they use specialized computer programs and databases to complete their work.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a geotechnical engineer are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, typically in an office setting or in the field.  

Available certifications

Due to a shortage of trained geotechnical engineers, there are many job opportunities in the field. In order to start working, you’ll first need a bachelor’s of science in civil engineering or a closely-related degree. Here are also some certifications that can help:

  • Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE). Each state has its own guidelines for licensure, so you’ll want to check what they are for the state you’ll be working in. In order to become fully licensed as a civil engineer, you’ll have to pass the PE exam. Many courses are available to help you prepare for and pass the PE. 
  • Diplomate, Geotechnical Engineering (D.GE). A D.GE certificate from the Academy of Geo-Professionals is considered the most prestigious in the field of geotechnical engineering. This certification can be obtained after several years of working as a geotechnical engineer. The certification exam includes questions to answer as well as a project to present. After the presentation, you will be asked questions about technical aspects of the field as well as ethical issues. To keep the certification up, you’ll be required to earn 20 hours of professional development hours per year. The exam is tough, but receiving the D.GE certification will advance your career and add credibility to your portfolio.

Career path

The path to becoming a geotechnical engineer typically starts with earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or another related engineering field. Beyond that, obtaining Professional Engineering (PE) licensure can show you’ve met standards in education, exam performance, and experience.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 17-2051

2020 Employment309,800
Projected Employment in 2030335,100
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 8% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift25,300 increase

As infrastructure in the U.S. continues to age, geotechnical engineers will be tapped to provide analysis and recommendations on how to safely maintain, repair, or replace unsafe and out-of-date structures. 

Sample interview questions

  • What qualities should a geotechnical engineer have? 
  • Where do you see your career heading in the next five years?
  • What was the most difficult project you’ve worked on? How did you work through the challenges that came along the way? 
  • How do you communicate the technical aspects of a project with someone who doesn’t have a technical background?
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake. How did you handle it? 
  • How do you manage your time when working on a project?
  • How do you stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the field? 
  • Describe a time you received criticism from your supervisor. How did you respond to it? 
  • Explain your process for double-checking your work to avoid mistakes.
  • How would you handle a client who is pushing to cut corners that would make a project unsafe?

Geotechnical Engineer Jobs in Ashburn

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